Monticello: A Thinking Man’s Place

Monticello, front view
Monticello, front view

Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello was my favorite tour. It was family-friendly, which meant it was geared toward children.  (Further translation:  it wasn’t stuffy and boring.)  The house was Jefferson’s design and it took 40 years to construct.  For his time, it was state-of-the-art, with the cisterns, ice houses, servant quarters, and indoor bathrooms.  Yes, indoor bathrooms.

Um, where's the toilet paper...the sink?
Um, where’s the toilet paper?  The sink?

The bathroom wasn’t posh by today’s standards, but it’s better than trudging through the weather to get to an outhouse.  We learned a few fascinating facts about Jefferson:  he incorporated some aspects of European living into his home, like placing beds in alcoves; he founded the University of Virginia; he wrote extensively and was quite organized- he even cataloged the seeds in his garden; and he believed plunging his feet into a pan of cold water upon waking each morning was beneficial for circulation.  Maybe he was onto something- Jefferson lived to be 83 years old, which was unusual for his time.

Can you see why Thomas Jefferson loved to relax at Monticello?
Can you see why Thomas Jefferson loved to relax at Monticello?

After learning more about three early US Presidents, I realize that Washington and Jefferson were wealthier than the average American.  Many of our presidents have been wealthy.  I guess you have to come from money to be able to pay for the mudslinging campaigning that goes on to win the presidency.  However, as far as I can tell, Washington and Jefferson had money, but they also had integrity (which many modern-day politicians seem to lack.)

Of the three presidents, I most admire Abraham Lincoln.  I even watched six hours of documentary about him on the History channel after we got back from vacation.  He was a great leader that came from a modest background.  His family didn’t have money and his dad pressured him to be a farmer.  Lincoln wanted more.  Lincoln was more.  Nothing in his life came easy, but he didn’t quit.  To me, Lincoln embodies what many see as the American Dream:  regardless of your background, if you can dream it, you can make it happen.

Do you have a favorite leader (anyone- political, religious or otherwise)?  What do you admire about that person?


24 thoughts on “Monticello: A Thinking Man’s Place

    • jannatwrites July 12, 2013 / 12:34 AM

      It was gorgeous, Carl. I was surprised at how advanced the house was for the time period.

    • jannatwrites July 12, 2013 / 12:35 AM

      The kids got a kick out of seeing a pair of Thomas Jefferson’s actual boots. His feet weren’t very large.

  1. pattisj July 11, 2013 / 2:25 PM

    Jefferson had a lovely view, I think that may have added to his longevity.

    • jannatwrites July 12, 2013 / 12:37 AM

      That certainly could’ve been part of it, Patti.

  2. nrhatch July 11, 2013 / 2:39 PM

    We loved visiting Monticello, UVA, and the Michie Tavern in Charlottesville. The terraced vegetable garden at Monticello made my green thumb green(er) with envy. Just splendid.

    And Jefferson brought ice cream to the USA. We owe him a big debt of gratitude for that.

    But of the three, I’m most impressed by Honest Abe.

    • jannatwrites July 12, 2013 / 12:41 AM

      I’m not sure I’m happy about him bringing ice cream here (I like it a little too much!) We ate at West Main in Charlottesville – my mom loved their pulled pork sandwich.

      I think Lincoln did his best to keep the country from splitting apart. Not an easy job, that’s for sure.

  3. Tessa July 11, 2013 / 2:45 PM

    It wouldn’t allow me to “like” it. Between wordpress, yahoo and facebook I am so frustrated.

    • jannatwrites July 12, 2013 / 12:42 AM

      I’m sorry WordPress is messing with you, Tessa…your like shows up now 🙂

      • Tessa July 12, 2013 / 2:08 PM

        I am glad that it finally showed up. I am not in the mood to deal with all these programs and their nonsense. On Yahoo I have delete 2 or 3 times. facebook also is messing with me. I am not in the mood for it so have been avoiding the computer completely.

        • jannatwrites July 13, 2013 / 12:06 PM

          I hope the online forums will decide to cooperate with you. It can be frustrating, Tessa.

        • Tessa July 13, 2013 / 12:39 PM

          All 3 at once,,,,just too much, especially since I have been sick off and on the last 3 months. Actually since Oct when all these infections started. They changed my meds again as well. I feel a little better, but usually takes a month or more before the side effects show up so we shall see.

        • jannatwrites July 14, 2013 / 10:35 PM

          I hope you don’t experience side effects this time, Tessa. That whole experimentation can be exhausting.

        • Tessa July 15, 2013 / 3:11 PM

          Thanks Janna! I hope I don’t either, but not holding much hope. I am sleeping at least. Through the night and most of the day. Can’t win! 🙂

        • jannatwrites July 15, 2013 / 11:31 PM

          Hope the sleep moderates soon 🙂

  4. Eric Alagan July 11, 2013 / 6:00 PM

    This has been wonderful sharing, Janna – nothing beats reading/hearing from a friend – although I’ve seen documentaries on many US presidents.

    • jannatwrites July 12, 2013 / 12:43 AM

      This was the final president post…I appreciate you taking time to read them, Eric 🙂

  5. Debbie July 14, 2013 / 6:03 PM

    We, too, went to Jefferson’s home when I was little, and I remember it being most interesting. And you’re right on about the integrity issue, sad to say!

    • jannatwrites July 14, 2013 / 10:40 PM

      I wish I could’ve taken pictures inside the house. There were some fascinating things they talked about in the tour. Maybe integrity will come back into style?

  6. pattyabr July 17, 2013 / 5:48 PM

    Abe Lincoln also
    I think I lost a camera or sunglasses at Monticello 22 years ago huh… Anyway I agree with your assessment. A cerebral place

    • jannatwrites July 17, 2013 / 11:03 PM

      Mr. Lincoln has made quite an impression on many people. I’d have been frantic if I lost my camera (guess that’s why I wear it around my neck :)) Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Patty!

  7. Sandra July 22, 2013 / 8:51 PM

    Janna, I’m a bit late to reading your posts, but I enjoyed reading about your trip to DC. I feel like I took a virtual tour at the three presidents’ residences and learned some very interesting facts! Good for you for watching that 6 hour documentary–history is fascinating, isn’t it? Thank you for these educational posts!

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